ŚMIGUS-DYNGUS And Palm Sunday: Water and Whipping

There were two holidays when I would hide from my Polish American mother, both associated with Easter. The first was Palm Sunday. When we arrived home from Mass, my mom would whip us with the new set of palms while she chanted in Polish. The purpose of this lashing was to drive the devil out of us. I always suspected my mom enjoyed this lashing a bit too much, and her yelling about the devil scared me. Well, maybe she didn’t yell, and didn’t exactly “whip,” but when your mom is chasing you while chanting an exorcism, you tend to remember the event a bit more vividly.

The next week, on Easter Monday, we celebrated Śmigus-Dyngus. My mother claimed that it was a popular holiday in Poland and Camden. She claimed that it was a day when boys would drench the girls they really liked with buckets of water. Children would go door to door and threaten neighbors with their waterguns unless a treat or coin was given. My mom also claimed that perfume sprays were also popular Dyngus weapons. I use the word “claim” because I didn’t know ANYONE, ANYONE AT ALL, who celebrated Dyngus Day. I was the only one in all of Collingswood, I am certain, who reeked of cheap Emeraude perfume all Easter Monday long. and that’s what Deb Said.

Easter 1957. Jimmy, my dad, and me.

One thought on “ŚMIGUS-DYNGUS And Palm Sunday: Water and Whipping

  1. Love your writing and your goofy subjects. Never heard of Śmigus-Dyngus. It sounds like a holiday a kid could like. But it can’t hold a candle to your mom chasing and whipping you with a palm.

    Best regards. Hope you and yours are well.


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